Hanapepe Journey - Part Two

SUBHEAD: The business of the future in Hanapepe will service local people with local products.

By Juan Wilson on 18 August 2009 for Island Breath  - 

Image above: Sign at east end of "Old Hanapepe Town". All photos by Juan Wilson.

Besides being a transportation and industrial center, historically Hanapepe town had unique role. It was not however a plantation town like so Koloa and Kekaha and many others. Hanapepe was a place that provided relief and entertainment from the grind of plantation work. It was famous for dance halls, restaurants, movie theaters, whore houses, bars, pool halls and opium dens. Today the town provides succor to tourists instead of soldiers and field workers. These days Friday's in "Old Hanapepe Town" provides a vibrant nightlife that supports many art galleries, craft stores, and street vendors. Usually the center of town hosts several musicians and entertainers. All of this is today largely dependent on tourists and will soon be greatly changed. I am not including those business and operations in my vision of businesses of the future.

As mentioned many times in these pages, we believe there will be a new economic order when:

1) Flying by jet as an affordable recreational activity won't be viable anymore.

2) Fuel prices rise to a point where traditional US growth is turned to contraction.

3) Business costs will exclude Hawaii from full participation US economics.

4) Hawaii is forced into regional generation of food and energy. 
In "Hanapepe Journey - Part One" we named a few businesses in town that were already living in the "future". This did not mean that other businesses were not now healthy, viable operations. This article does not look into Eleele and Port Allen business activities, and will concentrate on the old part of town along the river, down in the flats. There are a number of businesses in Hanapepe that serve local residents on Friday as well as other days of the week. Some of these are related to the "bad old" economy.

Those include auto parts, service and fuel operations that may continue on to for some time but will tend to fade away as the auto age ebbs away.

Other traditional businesses offer food; make, sell or mend clothing; provide medical or dental services; or do the other small town functions that are needed will continue to be viable long into the future. But they are not the models for new types of operations either. This new economic order is already making its way into our daily lives in Hanapepe.

I can tell because of something I saw in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1968. That was the first time I'd been in a "Third World" city and I experienced something then that I sense again now. It's going into a place of business and not knowing what was going on. You'd pass through an open door and could not tell if the place was a grocery, barber shop or private home. You could not tell if the place was open or what service they provided. You could not tell if things were for sale or not intended for your use. I had this experience again in Isfahan, Iran in 1976.

"You know something is happening, but you don't know what it is! Do you, Mr. Jones?" - Bob Dylan

Topping the list of businesses that are inventing themselves and leaning to the future are the Mana Ohana Food Co-op and the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Mana Ohana
Mana Ohana is on the Kaumualii Highway just east of the Hanapepe River. It occupies what once was the biggest tourist trap in town, The Green Garden Restaurant. This sprawling place is alive again with retail space, dining and kitchen facilities. This co-operative health food supplier offers a vital service. They are an outlet for locals who grow and prepare natural foods. Mana Ohana allows suppliers to take credits to purchase store items... no cash required. Bring in what you have in plenty and trade it for what you don't have. The goals of Mana Ohana are to expand and have a "food court" dining/meeting and commercial kitchen facilities available for those that need them.(www.manaohana.net)

- New Economy Element: Providing locally produced food.
The Habitat Restore
The Habitat for Humanities Restore Thrift Store is on the Kaumualii Highway in the pre-Iniki Am-Fac warehouse near the road down to Salt Pond. The Restore a kind of thrift store. It takes in what is offered in charity... but it is not just for retro tape cassettes, furniture and clothing. Like the Salvation Army Thrift Store, they have appliances, electronics, kitchenware, and baby products. Unlike a regular thrift store the Restore has building building materials and hardware. The stuff ranges from new and unused to bent-up and serviceable. A friend of mine built his house with what he found at the Restore just west of the river and mauka of the highway. (www.kauaihabitat.org)
- New Economy Element: Providing reuse of industrial materials.
The Storybook Theatre
The Storybook Theatre of Hawaii (SBT) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to serving children's media. It produces the "Russell the Rooster TV show. It has a classroom, theater, sound and video studio, workshop, and a children's garden dedicated to peace. To date much of the support for SBT has been through grants but it is scrambling to support itself. SBT has opened a retail store on the first floor that sells a bit of everything including banana bread, SBT CD's and DVD's. SBT offers everything from ukulele lessons to studio time and sound recording. The potential is for Storybook Theatre to become a new kind of community center that focuses on childhood development, education, local culture and media distribution. (www.storybook.org)
- New Economy Element: Local culture, education and entertainment.

Talk Story Bookstore
The name is often confused with Storybook Theatre (just across the street) but is a totally separate operation. The people at Talk Story Books sell new and used books online and in their spacious Hanapepe storefront. Besides specialty items they focus on the work of local authors and musicians. On Friday nights they offer free live music on their porch and on the first Monday of every month host a neighborhood potluck. It's a good place to duck into on a rainy afternoon for a game of chess. (www.talkstorybookstore.com)
- New Economy Element: A link to civilization past and present.
The Taro Ko Chip Factory  
This factory and retail store was until a few years ago operated by a woman in her late eighties, who when she was younger, used to work the Hanapepe Valley taro fields with her husband. Her son now operates the business. He makes packaged snack chips with local taro and sweet potato. From outside the place looks like an old plantation workers home. It took me a while to realize the Chip Factory was open to street traffic. Outside the front door there are often a few squash available for sale.

- New Economy Element: Processing local agriculture crops into packaged food.  
J.J. Ohana's

This store started out selling fine Niihau shell necklaces and imported gewgaws to tourists. They are now doing a bit of everything. They are still offer custom made Niihau shell products, but stopped relying on imported tourist claptrap. They are now open all the time with fresh brewed coffee, inexpensive lunches, and what they find works.

- New Economy Element: Locally made crafts and food for locals.

Besides new paradigms there is the tried and true. Attending to our addictions. That is what convenience stores do. They sell sweets, salt, fat, sugar, alcohol and tobacco. The latter two items are critical. We have two convenience stores. One at each end of town.  
Salt Pond Country Store   

At the west end of town opposite the Restore, Salt Pond County Store serves anyone in need that is going to the beach or further west. They used to have late hours but have dialed back. As a convenience store it has it all. Besides the Hana Rum and Maui Chips they specialize in some local foods like bento lunches, spam mitsubi, garlic potato salad, and pupus. But the thing that puts them on this list is the fishing and reef gear. If you're going to go catch your lunch in the ocean this store devotes a third of the store to rods, reels, nets, boots and other fishing equipment. - New Economy Element: Supplies equipment for gathering seafood. 

Aloha Spirits
New Economy Element: Nothing really new...  a ready to scratch that itch when you need it.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Hanapepe Journey - Part One 8/6/09

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